19.05.2023 | 4 min read

Researchers set out four fundamental measures of workplace wellbeing

Asking employees about Job satisfaction; Purpose; Happiness; and Stress offers key insights into workplace wellbeing.

A pair of the world’s leading wellbeing researchers have set out the four fundamental measures that companies should use to identify trends in employees’ wellbeing.

In a new working paper titled ‘Measuring Workplace Wellbeing’, Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Dr George Ward of the Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford, provide the rationale for the four key measures which offer an insight into how employees feel at work.

The measures have been developed in partnership with jobs site Indeed, and have been used to create the Workplace Wellbeing Score as part of the world’s largest study if workplace wellbeing.

The four key metrics are: Job satisfaction; Purpose; Happiness; and Stress. Professor De Neve and Dr Ward recommend that employees are asked to what extent (on a scale from 0 to 10) they agree with the statements in each of the following research-standard questions:

  • “Overall, how satisfied are you with your job?”
  • “Overall, how purposeful and meaningful do you find your work?”
  • “How happy did you feel while at work during the past week?”
  • “How stressed did you feel while at work during the past week?”

Crucially, while these questions align with general measures of wellbeing used by agencies across the OECD, including by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, they should only be used to gauge how employees are feeling: further research must be undertaken to establish why people may be feeling the way they do.

Indeed’s Workplace Wellbeing survey uses adapted versions of these four questions.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science and Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford, and a co-founder of the World Wellbeing Movement, explained: “These four simple measures reveal what we – backed by decades of happiness science – consider the key insights into how workers feel at work.

“It’s impossible to manage what you don’t measure, so by tracking these four metrics over time, companies will be able to gain a much better understanding of how their employees feel, offering the opportunity to unlock all of the positive outcomes that come from improved workplace wellbeing.

“But we’re not suggesting that organisations only ask these four questions: it’s important that business leaders are also asking the right questions to find out why their employees feel the way they do.”

Both Indeed and the Wellbeing Research Centre are among the founding members of the World Wellbeing Movement, a not-for-profit social impact organisation with the mission of placing wellbeing at the heart of decision-making both in business, and public policy.

Measuring Workplace Wellbeing’ is open access and available as part of the Wellbeing Research Centre’s Working Paper Series.